Monday, September 17, 2012

Nissan Leaf To Get New Battery Pack

Published September 17, 2012

By Jeff Cobb

Nissan Motor Co. has sold more than 35,000 of its all-electric Leafs globally since its December 2010 launch and in time to hopefully curtail presently flagging sales, the latest word confirming previous rumors is it will be getting an improved battery.

“There is a second generation of battery coming [online] now … which is less costly than the previous one,” said CEO Carlos Ghosn to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, but otherwise keeping details vague. “We are in a race in which you reduce the costs and adapt the price.”

The blogosphere recently picked up on a Japanese language report saying the battery would be somewhere around 25 percent more powerful, but Ghosn did not verify this estimation.

For those of you following this first-generation production EV, you might recall reports dating back to 2009 that a Nickel Manganese Cobalt li-ion chemistry would be coming, but here too, Ghosn does not confirm this.

What is reasonable at this juncture to speculate is if range was maybe 70-80 miles, the improved car ought to get north of 100 miles. If this is all it gets, that is less than the doubling the Nickel Manganese Cobalt had promised, but better than the presently similar range Ford Focus Electric.

What ever comes, it will be an improvement and with a 6.6 kilowatt-hour charger on board instead of the 3.3-kwh unit, it should halve the Nissan's Level 2 charging time – and stay competitive with the Ford which also has a 6.6-kwh charger.

Nissan manufactures its own batteries and word that it will cut costs ought to help it further against the limited availability Ford which has a very expensive battery.

In related news, Nissan is still declining to divulge any updates on what is believed to be heat-related battery degradation in Arizona and Texas. The company did take seven customer cars around late July/early August for thorough testing, but has most recently said it would let us know when it has something to share.

That brief reply was all it gave when told we've been getting reports of Leaf owners looking to take legal action, and upset worse following reported quotes that Nissan executives have told dismayed owners of degraded cars all is normal.

Far from agreeing what's happening is "normal," the MyNissanLeaf forum continues to be vocal and some Leaf owners are giving up waiting on Nissan to provide a satisfactory response, are also selling their once-beloved electric cars.

Whether we hear anything more on this subject from the company – or Nissan keeps what it somewhat dismissively describes as a “handful” of customer complaints shoved under the rug and moves onto a new battery and new customers is still an open question.

Aside from several dozen owners reporting what they believe to be premature battery failure due to heat, Nissan nationwide has seen a drop off in the sales momentum.

The company is nonetheless heavily invested to the tune of over $5 billion in global EV manufacture for the Leaf and other models now and pending, and while it still has disgruntled owners in hot states, all indications are the company is fully committed to their proliferation.


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